The UK has recorded its first death with the Omicron coronavirus variant, the UK prime minister Boris Johnson said.
He expressed worry at how fast the variant is spreading, and told people to get booster shots.
Johnson said on Monday during a visit to a west London vaccination clinic: “Sadly, yes, Omicron is producing hospitalizations and sadly, at least one patient has been confirmed to have died with Omicron.
“So I think the idea that this is somehow a milder version of the virus, I think that’s something we need to set on one side and just recognize the sheer pace at which it accelerates through the population. So the best thing we can do is all get our boosters.”
Johnson did not give any details about the person, including whether or not they had been vaccinated.
People who are not vaccinated are also more at disk of severe illness and death compared to those who are vaccinated. Officials across the world have called on people to get vaccinated or, if they are already fully vaccinated, to get their booster shots.
Health bodies across the world have so far said that the Omicron variant appears to produce a milder disease.
But, as Johnson noted, there are fears that the variant also spreads easier, which would mean more people get infected and negate the benefit of it potentially resulting in a milder illness.
Scientists are trying to figure out whether the Omicron variant is more deadly, more infectious, or makes vaccines and treatments less effective.
Experts are concerned over the high number of mutations that the variant has, which makes these scenarios more likely and thus make the variant more dangerous.
Other countries with confirmed Omicron cases, like the US, South Africa, and parts of the EU, are yet to report any Omicron deaths.